By Lincoln DePradine
An outing which began simply as an occasion for nationals of Trinidad and Tobago to “lime” together in Toronto, now has mushroomed to include other West Indians and has raised thousands of dollars for charitable causes.
The first “Family and Friends Picnic’’, organized by what is now known as the United Trinbago West Indian Association, was “very successful’’ and attracted about 1,600 people, said Tony Chankar.
Chankar, the association’s marketing and operations coordinator, told The Caribbean Camera that the number increased to 4,600 in 2017 and attendance is expected to reach about 7,000 at this year’s third annual picnic.
“The original idea was to get a bunch of Trinidadians together in a place where people who owned businesses could showcase their products,’’ Chankar said.
However, after the initial event, organizers held other activities and decided to expand their scope and reach. The United Trinbago West Indian Association was also registered as a non-profit charitable organization.
The association has raised more than $60,000 which have been distributed as cash and in-kind donations, including wheelchairs, foodstuff and Christmas hampers, to institutions in Trinidad and as aid to “charitable causes” in Bermuda and Grenada, and to organizations in Canada such as United Way and the Scott Mission.
“Every single penny is donated to charity,’’ Chankar emphasized. “We are constantly a wheel in motion. Whatever is raised is raised for one purpose only and that is to give back.’’
The third annual “Family & Friends Picnic’’ will be held on Sunday, August 26 at Markham Fair Grounds, 10801 McCowan Road.
It begins 9.30 a.m. and will feature a range of activities, including live entertainment such as limbo, steelpan playing, singing and dancing. Among the cast of entertainers will be Chutney superstar Ravi-B, Calypso and Soca artiste Kerwin Du Bois and Kavita Ramkissoon, the “Chutney Empress’’.
Organizers also have put together an “exotic car show’’, rides, games and face-painting for children, as well as a junior carnival called the “Uni-TnT Festival of Mas’’’.
“The kids can use their 2018 carnival costumes,’’ said Chankar. “They’ll assemble at 10.30 a. m. for the parade, and will also receive free hot dogs and other treats.’’
Chankar also spoke about plans for the cooking contest, the “International Curry Duckoff’’.
“It’s going to end up being the largest Curry Duck competition ever in North America,’’ he said. “The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize.’’
Advanced tickets for the August 26 picnic are on sale – (adults-$10 each and children, ages 6-12 -$5 each.) Entry to the Markham Fair Grounds is free for seniors and children under the age of six.
“We want everyone to come and participate. It’s all-day entertainment and there’s nothing we are missing,’’ Chankar said.
“It’s a West Indian event,’’ stressed Chankar, “not just a Trinidadian event. We’re keeping the price of admission down because it’s not about money. It’s about bringing people together.’’
“And we are still looking for volunteers and a few vending spots are still available.”
For more information about the third annual “Family and Friends Picnic,’’ phone 416-309-9754